The events of the past few weeks have been dizzying. One thought has repeatedly come to mind as I read the news reports: Leadership matters.
Good leaders see the big picture, they do their best to find the right path forward, they engage others in creating solutions, they educate and motivate their followers to do the same. They show courage, integrity and respect. They set a good example. Above all, they tell the truth and inspire trust.
In my almost-75 years, I have lived through numerous national challenges and crises. I remember how frightened my mother was about polio, then all of us standing in line in the high school gym to get the first shots.
I remember the disaster drills, when we’d darken our classrooms and crawl under our desks, practicing what we’d do if there were an atomic bomb. Then came the Civil Rights struggle, the Vietnam war, the assassinations of beloved leaders, Watergate, AIDS, the Columbine shooting, 9/11 and the Great Recession.
With the possible exception of the late ’60s, we have never faced as much as we do in this moment:the pandemic, economic calamity, calls for racial justice, the dire effects of climate change and failure to agree on simple facts, let alone the truth.
These times demand strong leadership at every level of government, from every community organization and from each one of us.
I have great confidence that our new president and his team will generate the strongest possible responses to these issues. Our state and local leaders have marshaled all the resources they can, but they can accomplish more with better funding and more robust federal leadership.
People throughout our mountain community are demonstrating leadership by tackling big problems in tangible, person-to-person ways. You don’t often know their names because they are working to accomplish something, not to create a following. They are adapting, collaborating, setting goals, engaging others, raising money and making our community stronger.
Volunteers and staff at Evergreen Christian Outreach, which has served mountain families in need for more than 30 years, have faced huge increases in demand for the many services they provide. In spite of stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements, they have continued to serve all with resolve and innovation. The Evergreen Chamber of Commerce has stepped up to the plate to help local businesses survive these tough times by assisting them in reshaping their business models, taking advantage of grants available through the CARES Act and vigorously promoting shopping locally. Our doctors’ offices changed dramatically with the arrival of COVID-19. They were closed entirely for weeks, then they introduced remote visits and implemented strict protocols for in-person visits.Now they are ramping up to play their part in administering the vaccine. For more than 10 years, a committed and growing group of Evergreen residents concerned about climate change has built the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance (formerly EAS+Y). It educates and motivates people to take action on recycling, sustainable gardening and energy efficiency. The group held its annual Zero Waste Forum just last night. Several congregations have committed to educating themselves and the larger community on issues related to racial justice. The websites of Beth Evergreen and Evergreen United Methodist Church are especially good resources if you are searching for more insight. Consider joining the 641 folks on the Facebook group Evergreen Coalition for Racial Justice.
Last, be a leader yourself by helping to create a shared reality based on truth. Choose your news sources with care. Show courage, integrity and respect in your personal and social-media lives. We can all be part of the solution to the challenges we face.
Linda Rockwell moved to Evergreen with her family in 1982. She got involved in local land-use issues in 1984 and in the Democratic Party a few years later. She served as chair of the Jeffco Democrats from 1993 to 1997. Good government and principled politics remain her passion.